Golf: England’s Waring takes first-round French Open lead

SAINT-QUENTIN-EN-YVELINES, France (AFP) – Englishman Paul Waring fired an opening-round seven-under-par 64 to take a two-shot lead after the first round of the French Open at Golf National on Thursday (June 29).

The world number 279 carded seven birdies in his bogey-free effort to sit atop the leaderboard, with Belgian Ryder Cup star Thomas Pieters in a three-way tie for second place.

Spaniard Jon Rahm signed for a one-under 70 as he looks to boost his chances of playing in the Ryder Cup at Golf National next year, while Tommy Fleetwood, who challenged at the US Open earlier this month, is only three strokes off the lead.

The 32-year-old Waring had four birdies in five holes on the back nine on his way to the lead.

Waring, who is having the best season of his career so far, will play at a major championship for the first time since 2008 at next month’s British Open.

Pieters, 25, is looking for his first title of the season after three top-10 finishes, including at the Masters in April.

The world number 28 poured in three successive birdies on the Albatros course on his way to a round of 66, with a bogey on the par-five ninth his only blemish.

England’s Fleetwood, who reached a career-high ranking of 21st by finishing fourth in the US Open at Erin Hills, is another who will be expecting to qualify for Thomas Bjorn’s European Ryder Cup team.

He hit 17 of 18 greens to get off to a solid start in the tournament that has substantial Ryder Cup points on offer as part of the European Tour’s eight-event Rolex Series.

The 22-year-old Rahm mixed four birdies with a bogey and a double bogey in his first round in a European Tour event that isn’t co-sanctioned with the PGA Tour.

Nathan Kimsey and Sweden’s Alexander Bjork are the other two players tied for second with Pieters, while Thailand’s defending champion Thongchai Jaidee struggled to a one-over-par 72.